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Journal Article

An Orderly Return to Tradition: Explaining the Recruitment of Members into Catholic Religious Orders

Roger Finke
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 218-230
DOI: 10.2307/1387554
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1387554
Page Count: 13

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Topics: Demand, Obedience, Catholicism, Churches, Community life, Poverty, New order, Communitarianism, Men, Communes
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An Orderly Return to Tradition: Explaining the Recruitment of Members into Catholic Religious Orders
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Abstract

Many observers have been perplexed by the sudden membership drop in Catholic religious orders following Vatican II reforms. They are faced with the paradox that increasing individual liberties and decreasing communal demands have been associated with membership declines. Using a recent survey of religious orders, I find strong support for the thesis that "when religious orders limit nongroup activities (by supporting the traditional demands of membership) they are more successful in recruiting new members". But the thesis does not suggest that support for traditional demands stifles innovation or change. I use the activities of recently formed religious orders to illustrate how religious movements make innovative returns to tradition.

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